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Under the Andes Rex Stout

The Escape

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Calling to Harry to follow, I turned and ran for the opening in the rock to which I had led Desiree. In an instant he had joined me.

By that time scores of the Incas had scrambled out of the water onto the ledge and started toward us, and as many more came rushing through the crevice, finding their way no longer contested.

Harry carried three spears. I had four. We sprang up a lane encircling the rock to the rear and at its top found Desiree.

A projecting bit of rock gave us some protection from the spears that were being hurled at us from below, but they came uncomfortably close, and black forms began to appear in the lane through which we had come.

Harry shouted something which I didn't hear, and, taking Desiree in his arms, sprang from the rock to another ledge some ten feet below.

I followed. At the bottom he stumbled and fell, but I helped him to his feet and then turned barely in time to beat back three or four of the Incas who had tumbled down almost on our very heads.

Immediately in front of us was a chasm several feet across. Harry cried to Desiree, "Can you make it?" and she shook her head, pointing to her injured foot.

"To me!" I shouted desperately; they were coming down from above despite my efforts to hold them back.

Then, in answer to a call from Harry, I turned and leaped across the chasm, throwing the spears ahead of me. Harry took Desiree in his arms and swung her far out; I braced myself for the shock and caught her on my feet.

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I set her down unhurt, and a minute later Harry had joined us and we were scrambling up the face of a boulder nearly perpendicular, while the spears fell thick around us.

Desiree lost her footing and fell against Harry, who rolled to the bottom, pawing for a hold. I turned, but he shouted: "Go on; I'll make it!" Soon he was again at my side, and in another minute we had gained the top of the boulder, quite flat and some twenty feet square. We commanded Desiree to lie flat on the ground to avoid the spears from below, and paused for a breath and a survey of the situation.

It can be described only with the word chaotic.

The light of the urns were now hidden from us, and we were in comparative darkness, though we could see with a fair amount of clearness. Nothing could be made of the mass of boulders, but we knew that somewhere beyond them was the passage from the cavern which we sought.

The Incas came leaping across the chasm to the foot of the rock. Several of them scrambled up the steep surface, but with our spears we pushed them back and they tumbled onto the heads of their fellows below.

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Under the Andes
Rex Stout

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